Re: Lamarckism and Category (?) Mistakes

Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog (
Sat, 7 Jun 1997 08:52:58 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 1997 08:52:58 -0500
From: (Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog)
Subject: Re: Lamarckism and Category (?) Mistakes

>Timothy Perper wrote:
>>I'm not sure I know what a "memome" is, but if it's a typo for "meme,"
>Not a typo. I used memome for the memetic complement of an organism,
>parallel to genome, the genetic complement of an organism.
>Regarding my previous remark about memes (as replicators -- not phenotypic
>expressions) only existing in neural systems, my reasoning is based on my
>belief that the "information" in meme phenotypes, by which I mean
>perceptible behaviour or the (extended) artefacts that behaviour produces,
>is not information unless there are brains around to categorise it.

It strikes me that's only half the story. You're discussing "meme
phenotypes," such as behavior or the products of behavior, and not what you
call the "gemotype" or "memome." Nor are you discussing where the
information came from.

Thus, it is true that a coded signal has "meaning" only if the receiver can
decode it, for otherwise the signal is nothing but noise. But that is from
the recipient's view. From the sender's view, the signal has "meaning"
even if the recipient is dead.

For example, the front-line soldier sees a line of enemy tanks approaching
and radios command headquarters, in code, that tanks are approaching. Are
you saying that this message has no information content if, by chance, the
enemy has obliterated command headquarters with a well-placed bomb, and no
one else heard the message?

This, it strikes me, is the question whether if there's no one in the
forest when a tree falls, does the tree make a sound? The answer is Yes,
the soldier's message has information content, because information was
encoded into the message by the sender, and yes, the tree makes a sound
because we define sound as certain pressure waves in air. Neither requires
a recipient to exist.

The alternative, it seems to me, is solipsism of the Bishop Berkeley variety.

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